How to Create Your Own Workout
When I graduated from high school and started my college career, the last thing on my mind was exercise. I had been playing sports my entire life, but I never really considered this to be “working out.” Rather, these were my after school activities- things I did because my parents wanted me to, because I liked being a part of a team, because my school required me to, and because they looked good on my college applications (guilty as charged). Me running sprints on a tennis court, spending hours after class doing crunches on a soccer field… this was never a work out in my mind. Definitely not because I didn’t get sweaty and feel tired (quite the opposite), but because it wasn’t my mindset. So when I got to college and no longer was a part of a sports team, exercise was no longer a part of my daily routine.
It wasn’t until a while later, when I began developing disordered eating and exercise habits, that I began to think about what it meant to work out. Why had it so easily fallen off my radar? And why was I finding it challenging to pick it up again? I quickly realized it was because I had absolutely no clue where to start. All my life, I had turned to coaches for instruction. I had never come up with my own routine, didn’t know what exercises to incorporate, for how long to workout… any of it! I was completely on my own. Sure I could get a personal trainer, and later on I would for a period of time, but this was too expensive and impractical for me to consider while being on a college campus and on my student schedule.
But, thankfully, we live in a digital age where a Google search of “workout routines” leads you not to just one website, but hundreds, filled with curated content on various routines. App reviews show up, videos, you name it. There are workout routines all over the internet for any form of exercise we are craving, so many that you could probably go years without repeating the same one. For a while, I jumped from website to website, app to app, but I finally settled in with BBG- Kayla Itsine’s workout app.
I began following her religiously, starting off every single day with her 27-minute routine. I would add cardio after, maybe do some more abs on the side. This app, to put it in the simplest and most cliché of terms, would change my relationship with exercise completely.
When I finished the program, I felt confident about myself in a completely new way: gone was the girl who had no clue how to instruct herself at the gym. No, I was confident now when I walked in those doors every AM. I knew my way around, knew various exercises to work my upper body, lower body, both at once, you name it. I knew a good amount of reps that made me sweat, the amount of weight I could handle at the time… I was familiar and I felt ready to be challenged.
This was the point in my life where I began to truly love exercise. With no more routine to follow (you can, with BBG, start the program over again or move onto the various versions, but I felt it was time for me to move on altogether to something new), I was free to come up with my own. Every night, I would create my workout for the next morning. I would think about what parts of my body I wanted to work, where I wanted to be in the gym, what exercises I enjoyed the most… And doing all of this motivated me like no other. An hour of my day spent doing various things I loved? Count me in!
All of this is to say that starting out at the gym can be terrifying. If you look at my account or other accounts on social media, my guess is they can be intimidating- or at least they definitely were to me! But once you cross that border and get familiar with your body, the equipment, and everything else… that’s when the fun begins and the motivation flows freely.
So for those of you reading this that do feel scared and have no clue where to start- I want to leave you with some tips I have picked up over the past few years throughout this process to make you more excited and make the gym less daunting. Read on!
- Follow a program. Okay okay so if you read all of the above, you definitely saw this one coming. It doesn’t have to be BBG- it could be Tone It Up, PopSugar videos, SELF workout challenges, Katie Austin… and the list goes on and on… there are so many (so many) websites, apps, and video platforms out there promoting various workouts and workout routines. Try these out until you find a program you love, discover exercises that you enjoy (and work you hard!), and feel excited every day to get going.
- Spend five minutes every day trying something new. At the end of your workout, spend a few minutes outside of your comfort zone. Have you been eying the medicine balls in the corner but have no clue what they are for? Go over and check them out. Pick one up, feel it in your hands. That may sound silly, but the act of just getting comfortable with a piece of equipment goes a long way to calm your nerves. And, that’s where…
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That girl next to you who is doing medicine ball slams? Ask her (during a break, if she doesn’t look extremely focused and intense!) if she wouldn’t mind showing you or explaining to you how she does them. Don’t be offended if she says she doesn’t have the time- I often find myself on a tight workout schedule! - but if she does, you’ve just learned a whole new exercise to incorporate into your routine!
- Listen to your body. As soon as you feel pain or an unpleasant discomfort, stop. Don’t lift more than you physically can, don’t tell yourself you have to go longer and longer even though you feel dizzy. The same applies to exercises: don’t force yourself to do burpees or pushups if you don’t like them! There are tons of other exercises out there that work the same body parts- play around with these until you find the ones you do love and look forward to performing.
- Come up with a routine. Every day, I follow a different workout pattern. But, every week, I follow the same. What I mean by this is that Monday I always do legs, but I don’t do the same leg exercises week to week. This ensures that I am always at the gym and working out my various body parts, but that I am never getting bored.
- Challenge yourself. My guess is you can go one rep higher, five pounds higher, one minute longer than you think you can. Don’t hurt yourself- but my guess is you can do more than you ever know. And when you try these and succeed? You’ll feel like a total badass.
If you aren’t feeling ready yet to hit the gym and do your own thing… I challenge you to just go. Go and walk around and take it all in (yes, I know, it sounds like I think the gym is Disneyland or something) and familiarize yourself with as much as you can. At the end of the day, you are amazing for taking the steps to get comfortable in the first place! And whatever you need to get started and going is what you should be doing.
What is or was your biggest fear when it comes to gyms? Is it the cleanliness (preach), the massive equipment, or the crowds? Let me know below and maybe I can help!